Friday, May 7, 2010

24 April 2010 FrAG (Frederick Area Gamers) Tournament (Game 1)

Opponent: Dave (Blood Angels).  Earnest, soft-spoken, and pretty talented with the strategery, Dave was one of the younger gamers in attendance, and a good friend of Tien, my Tyranid opponent from the previous tournament.  He was fielding a dual Land Raider assault army, which had the additional intriguing (terrifying!) twist of being Blood Angel flavored – meaning who knows what, as I still didn’t have a copy of the codex.  But I was sure there would be any number of nasty surprises for me in the game, and I also knew that should either Land Raider get to my lines, the game was going to be over for my guys.  I sure hoped my Railguns wouldn’t let me down!

Army: (1850 pts)
  • Furioso Librarian with Assault and Jumping powers
  • 2x Vindicators
  • 5 Terminators & Librarian inside Standard Land Raider
  • 5 Death Company inside Redeemer Land Raider
  • 1x10 Tactical Marines with Lascannon & Flamer
  • 1x7 Tactical Marines with Plasma Cannon
Mission: “Storm of Annihilation” special mission.  Pitched Battle set-up (12” deployment), with night-fight rules in the first turn.  Primary objective is kill points.  Secondary objective is to capture (any unit may capture) the sole objective (the ‘vortex’), which moves 1d6” in a random direction at the start of each player’s turn.  Tertiary objective is to get a scoring unit into your opponent’s deployment zone at any point in the game.

Terrain: Some high hills scattered around the table blocked LOS to smaller (standard infantry-sized) units, but between those hills and some blocks of trees, there was plenty of cover but very little place to actually hide out of LOS if you were larger than an infantry marine or Fire Warrior model.

What happened? 
I won the roll-off to deploy, and set up both units of Hornsuits (Broadsides) on a tall mesa-like hill in the middle of my deployment zone.  I surrounded them with a unit of Scouts/Pathfinders (giving the Pathfinders as much cover as possible, as the Hornsuits have plenty themselves), and deployed the Quasar (Hammerhead) to one side, with the Ranger (Crisis) Suits doing their best to hide behind the hill and tank as much as possible.

A hilltop full of Slann, including a few suits obviously lying down on the job.
(picture taken by Chris "TheEC")

I deployed the second unit of Scouts/Pathfinders in some woods on my right flank, the only other piece of terrain in my deployment zone with decent LOS, and attached the HQ/Shas’el model to the unit for the moment.  The transports and Brave/Fire Warriors were left in Reserve, to come in and try to capture the objective later.

Dave hid his two Tactical squads behind a tall hill in the far corner (my far left) of his deployment zone, with only the heavy weapons sticking out to shoot.  His Librarian Furioso found some cover behind them, and he deployed his other units in two squadrons: his Terminators and their Land Raider, plus a Vindicator, behind some woods in the middle, and the other Land Raider and Vindicator behind some woods on my far right.  I responded by infiltrating my two units of Slann/Kroot, one to screen my Pathfinders on the right flank, and another deploying into woods on the center-left of the table, to try and distract those pesky Tactical Marines as much as possible.

Then the game began, and my Railguns proceeded to spend the next five shooting phases disappointing me bitterly.  They managed to do absolutely nothing to either Land Raider, but fortunately my Missile Pods were far more impressive, blowing the Demolisher Cannons off both Vindicators on multiple glancing shots (!).

Although disappointed by the loss of his pie-plates of S10 death, Dave rallied and blew the Railgun off my tank with a Land-Raider twin-Lascannon shot.  He also had his Librarian Furioso jump and run forward toward my Slann/Kroot.  Wait… your dreadnought has jump-packs?  Your DREADNOUGHT has a potential 18” assault range?  Dear god!

I had a much better turn two, as my Missile Pods managed to immobilize the Librarian Furioso, and the Railguns (after I used all four remaining shots) managed to kill one of the two Land Raiders – the more dangerous one (in my mind), the Redeemer with the flamer templates.  Death Company models spilled out and rushed at my lines, with Vindicators roaring merrily behind them, sniping away with Storm Bolters (to very little effect).  The immobilized Furioso added a mini-salvo of Storm Bolter shots, but did nothing of consequence.

I successfully killed the Death Company at the start of the third turn, and the remaining three turns were simply a sniping match between Dave’s three long-range units, and all of mine.  I reduced the second Land Raider to a weaponless hulk, as well as both Vindicators (finally managing to kill one of them in the fifth turn), but my heavy firepower consistently underperformed.  Fortunately, Dave’s units had far less firepower, and despite my poor luck, he was able only to kill one unit of mine (a Broadside team), although he did also shoot up my Hammerhead quite nicely.

My Reserves came in relatively late, and thus were unable to realistically contest the objective, which had spent the entire game drifting around and toward Dave’s unit of Terminators, who ended the game atop of it, winning the secondary objective.

Turning the Tables.
Dave was far too cautious in his game-play, choosing to inexplicably sit tight with BOTH his Land Raiders, rather than rushing forward at the first opportunity and trying to get his Death Company and Terminators into close combat.  He did move the Redeemer, but for some odd reason moved it only 6 inches forward (so as to fire guns, I believe), rather than move it a full 12 inches.  At any rate, melee is a colossal weakness that he could have exploited – and what's more, my poor shooting meant that I failed to immobilize the second Land Raider until the third turn, at which point Dave’s Terminators would already HAVE BEEN IN CLOSE COMBAT AND PUNCHING MY BROADSIDES TO PIECES… but only if they had been driving pell-mell at me, at top speed, from the very first turn.

The Terminators pose heroically next to their smoking hulk of a Land Raider, 
and many many inches away from the Slann-pounding goodness of an assault.
(picture taken by Chris "TheEC")

Dave also had poor target choice with his weapons.  The Heavy Bolter on his Land Raider should have been shooting at Pathfinders, not Broadsides.  Similarly, the two Tactical Squads kept splitting their fire – although the Lascannon did keep shooting at Broadsides (good job there), the Plasma Cannon kept dropping shots on Kroot… in cover… and gone to ground.  That’s a 2+ cover save for those Kroot.  Why are you shooting at worthless, useless Kroot?  Shoot more Broadsides (and/or Pathfinders) instead!

Next, that whole jumping Furioso thing – if your close-combat dreadnought has that kind of movement… why are you deploying him as far away from me as possible?  Deploy him as far FORWARD as possible, and try to get into combat as quickly as possible!  When Dave deployed the Furioso (in the table corner furthest from my units!), there was no enemy unit literally within 36 inches of the guy – my Kroot had not infiltrated onto the table yet.  Why not deploy him in the middle of the table, and hide behind a Land Raider at the start of the game if you’re worried about him getting shot?  But now you’re immobilized, and it doesn’t matter.  You go ahead and vent your impotent fury with your only “long range” weapon, a mighty, mighty storm bolter.  Which I have now just blown off.  Enjoy.

Finally, Dave was much too cautious with his Vindicators.  True, they had lost their primary weapons before he even had a turn, but they could still Tank-Shock things quite nicely.  Why were they messing around moving just 7 or 8 inches and sniping with a Storm Bolter?  They’re Fast Vehicles in the Blood Angel list, aren’t they?  Floor the accelerator and TANK SHOCK my units!  They’re only Ld8, some of them will fail, and then you can escort them off the table.  But too late, because now you’re immobilized.

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